Amsterdam will have a Suriname Museum, with a permanent exhibition about the culture and history of the country, and about the close, complex relationship with the Netherlands.
It’s an old dream finally coming true. In just about every crown year of the now more than a hundred years old Vereniging Ons Suriname, people mused aloud about a museum. It never happened, until now. Detailed plans are now being tabled for a beautiful Suriname Museum, which should open to the public in 2023.
Corona put an end to the business activities of Vincent Soekra, chairman of Ons Suriname and event organizer last year. No Kwaku, no Keti Koti, no Reggae Lake. So plenty of time to work out the plans for a Suriname Museum with fellow board member and marketing man Jan Gerards. “It was a disaster year,” says Soekra, “but if this succeeds, something very beautiful will come out of it.”
The plans are ambitious. Two floors of the association building on Zeeburgerdijk, together representing 1300 square meters, will be made available for a permanent exhibition about the culture and history of Suriname and the Surinamese. The exhibition is organized by artists Felix de Rooy and René Wissink, who also signed a controversial exhibition in the Tropenmuseum about racial stereotypes in the late 1980s.
The exhibition in the Suriname Museum will tell the story of the close relationship between two countries, says Gerards. “From the arrival of the first Dutch in Suriname in the seventeenth century to the arrival of the Surinamese to the Netherlands in the twentieth century. It is about the colonial past, but also about independence. And also about the flora and fauna of Suriname, and in the museum café in the garden we have roti and pom, with explanations.”
Green light for new museum on the Zuidas
Another new museum: in addition to the Suriname Museum, it was announced on Wednesday evening that the former court building on Parnassusweg will become a museum with contemporary art. The municipality agreed with the ‘gift’ that philanthropist Rob Defares gives to the city. Read more.
The initiators expect 50,000 visitors per year. That seems feasible, given the enormous success of the exhibition about Suriname that was held in the Nieuwe Kerk last year. Gerards was involved in that project as a marketer. “In five months the exhibition attracted 183,000 visitors, and it could have been even more had more tickets been available. But the argument is how great the interest is.”
The visitors are also badly needed for the income. The coherence of the museum costs three million euros, and that money still has to be scraped together. Gerards: “That is the ideal picture, including the arrival of a library, an elevator and the construction of a cellar under the building. We have decided to start step by step. Next month we will be working on the ground floor, where the Black Archives will present an exhibition about the resistance against Zwarte Piet this year.”
Jubilee year 2023
The hope is rather that extra money from the central government will be made available last year for the anniversary year 2023, when it will be 150 years that slavery in the Dutch colonies was also abolished in practice and the government will most likely receive an official apology for it. slavery past. Soekra: “The museum fits in perfectly with the plans to devote ample attention to the colonial past and its impact that year.”
Elsewhere in the city, work is also being done on the establishment of a slavery museum, but according to the initiators, these plans for the Suriname Museum should not stand in the way. “The Jewish Cultural Quarter also contains various institutions, each of which looks at history from its own perspective,” says Gerards. Soekra adds: “We have a building. We are the only Surinamese association with our own premises. That is a big advantage.”
The activities of Ons Suriname – debates, book presentations, lectures – will continue in the new accommodation. “But in a more attractive environment,” says Soekra. “The museum can also help us to ensure the continued existence of the association. Our membership base is ageing, young people do not join so quickly. The museum attracts visitors every day. That is an attractive prospect.”